It’s getting to be that time of year. Spring cleaning and all that sort of thing. Well, considering this winter, spring may turn to summer before it shows up. But speaking of springs, how often do you replace those in your shotguns?
Let’s take gas guns, for example. For quite a while I shot Remington 1100s in International Skeet competition. Loved the guns. Loved them to death. Literally. I’d get something around a year or 35K rounds out of a gun before it would 1) develop the 1100 “death crack” in the receiver behind the ejection port or 2) become an instant take-down gun by shooting off the magazine tube. This was in addition to the usual small-parts breakage.
I stuck with the Remingtons when I took up sporting clays in ’87. The problem with gun repair and sporting is that you are always a mile or so from the parts kit in the car when something bad happens. I switched over to Beretta autos after my 1100 ate its insides on top of Vermont’s Okemo ski mountain in the midst of the FITASC Worlds in ’92. The Beretta autos didn’t eat as many parts, but they did dine occasionally.
After finally realizing that I should consult my betters—in this case Beretta guru Rich Cole (www.colegun.com)—I learned that some of my maladies could be controlled by regular replacement of the mainspring. When I replaced the mainspring in my Beretta 303, the old spring was 4” shorter than the new one. Light bulb!
Perhaps this is all too obvious to you gentle readers, but it taught me a lesson. Springs wear out. As a gas auto’s spring starts going south, it will eject the hull farther and farther because the spring has less resistance. This may look as though the gun is frisky and happy, but in reality it is beating itself to death and little broken parts soon will come dribbling out. Ideally, you want the empty hull to be ejected just far enough to be reliable. Too much is too much. When the spring is healthy, it slows down the bolt speed and all the parts inside rejoice with less abuse.
An old shooting pal of mine, the Big Kahuna, also recommends replacing the auto’s hammer spring occasionally. The additional hammer-spring tension slows down the bolt a bit more as it cocks the hammer on the way back.
How often should you replace your mainspring? I do it every 5K to 10K rounds or when my gun is pitching the same shell farther than it used to. Replacing an auto’s mainspring is a 10-minute job. A good source for all sorts of high-quality shotgun spring packages is J&P Custom Products (www.jnpgunsprings.com). A fresh mainspring won’t stop a heavily used gas gun from breaking parts, but it will sure lessen the problem.
Spring ahead or fall behind. Boots off. Beer open.